Byron Sharp is famous for saying that “sales growth won’t come from relentlessly relying upon a particular segment of the brand’s consumers.” Whilst this statement might have been true in 2010 when he published his book, does it still have a place in the marketing almanac today? Companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Verizon have all sponsored Byron Sharps research, so they must think so.
In 2018 there are some cynics who believe that Byron Sharp is wrong, which begs the question, why do they think they are right? When something new comes along it is often met with great scepticism. That’s just human nature.
Then ‘Group Think’ evolves into “there is nothing new in this really, and anyway it still has to get to the mainstream”. And then when it’s in the mainstream Group Think says “ oh it’s only fashionable thinking and it really isn’t that sustainable as an idea.”
But there does come a point when a “new idea” becomes the “old idea” and the next ‘new idea’ comes along. That’s when the current ‘old idea’ becomes core to business growth. With me so far? So here is the “new old” idea, “to grow your business you need new consumers.” It’s been like that since God was a boy. If we agree that consumers and shoppers leave a brand at a given rate, we need to recruit new consumers to grow or maintain a brand. Yes, it’s cheaper to service your existing consumer base and it does lead to increased profitability, but this is short term. Yes, it is true to say that it is harder and more costly to find new consumers, but that’s how you grow a business.
To succeed any company has to understand what the brands’ values are. They must demonstrate connected thinking between the consumer, the shopper and the customer. They must appeal to new shoppers and consumers.
Today the brand has to work hard in emotionally engaging with the consumer, anticipating shopper behaviour and future proofing the category for the customer. There are a handful of global brands who understand this. Needless to say, they have been mentioned in this article.
At a recent client meeting, it was stressed by the client that there it is important for their sales team to have an understanding of the customer sales opportunity. That’s a given. There is a demand for any supplier to have a 360° appraisal of the customer’s world. Again this is not something new but it has fallen out of fashion in recent years. So when you are making your next proposal ask yourself if it includes up to date understanding of the current situation, the business objectives and business needs?
And this is at the heart of Byron Sharp’s thinking. Knowing your new consumer is as important as understanding your existing shoppers. If your brand is unable to engage with new consumers then you will have to rethink.